Steve McCurry teams up with new Montreal gallery

A defiant young Afghan woman stared into Steve McCurry’s lens over 30 years ago and beamed out from the cover of National Geographic as one of the publications most iconic images.

Photographer's 1st Canadian exposition runs until June 30 in Old Port

Sharbat Gula, Afghan Girl, at a refugee camp near Peshawar, Pakistan, in 1984. (Steve McCurry/Galerie Got)

A defiant young Afghan woman stared into Steve McCurry's lens over 30 years ago and beamed out from the cover of National Geographic as one of the publication's most iconic images.

McCurry's fascination with Afghans endures, and their striking portraits can be found on the walls of Montreal's Galerie Got until June 30.

"Afghans have some of the most interesting faces in the world," McCurry told CBC Montreal's Homerun.

"There were some times I was under fire and just wanted to be home," McCurry said of his work as a photographer. (Steve McCurry/Galerie Got)

Many of the works on display feature images from Afghanistan and its people. McCurry hopes to one day create a book based solely on Afghanistan.

"You always think you’re at the end of the story, that things are improving," McCurry said of his numerous visits to Afghanistan over the past decades. (Steve McCurry/Galerie Got)

McCurry spends most of his time travelling and shadowing locals. He estimates he may have spent 10 days at home over the course of the past year.

His personal interests as a photographer rest with human situations, even in areas of upheaval and danger.

In this photograph men are seen on a train in India. (Steve McCurry/Galerie Got)

"I literally was the only foreigner in 19 days [I spent working in the] streets," he said of one visit to Afghanistan where foreigners would never leave their guarded buildings or cars.

He said insurance policies wouldn't cover them if they did. 

“It’s really disconcerting when you're trying to have breakfast and there are armed guards there in the room,” McCurry said of Afghanistan. (Steve McCurry/Galerie Got)

Dangerous work

His work has taken him into physically threatening situations.

Such as the time he ended up following a local friend under a bridge and someone didn't like his camera. They came at him with a meat clever.

"He was clearly high. And it just struck me – I don't mind being stabbed, but to get a meat cleaver through my head? That would really be a terrible thing."

"The men are very vain. They love to have their picture taken," McCurry said. (Steve McCurry/Galerie Got)

McCurry maintains that he doesn't seek out conflict situations but can't shake the intrigue he feels towards tumultuous areas.   

"You always think you're at the end of the story, that things are improving," he said of his visits to Afghanistan over the decades.  

"But it feels like we're more in the middle of the story and things continue to, in many ways, spiral out of control."

"I never thought of myself as a war photographer. I was always more interested in the human situations," McCurry said. (Steve McCurry/Galerie Got)

Photojournalism controversy

McCurry has recently faced accusations of photoshopping his pictures in a way which conflicts with the code of ethics for photojournalists.

Photojournalists are allowed to alter contrasts and tone in their photos but not manipulate more tangible aspects of the image, like removing people or objects, which some accuse him of doing in some of his photographs.